Two congressmen say they'll start carrying guns in their hometowns following the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Heath Schuler says Giffords's shooting has reminded him not to "let [his] guard down"--the North Carolina Democrat received a serious death threat in 2009, and he's encouraging staffers to get their own permits to carry concealed weapons, Politico's Erika Lovely reports. Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz says he wants to see if U.S. Marshalls could start protecting members of Congress in their districts; he also wants local police to stop by town halls more often.
But Giffords is sadly far from the first member of Congress to be a victim of shocking violence. Thirty-three years ago, Rep. Leo Ryan, a California Democrat, was murdered by a follower of Jim Jones when he tried to investigate the cult leader's compound in Guyana. Jones then led his flock in a mass suicide. Ryan was the only congressman killed while on official duty, though others have died violently for political reasons: Rep. Jonathan Cilley was killed by Rep. William Graves in a duel in 1938; Reps. Preston Brooks and Laurence Keitt nearly beat Sen. Charles Sumner to death over slavery in 1856. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assasinated in 1968, and Sen. Huey Long died from a gunshot wound in 1935.